WASHINGTON—About two miles of border wall are being built per week right now, according to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
“[It’s] coming along aggressively,” he told President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House on June 12. “By the end of next year, over 400 miles [will be built].”
Trump predicted it might be closer to 500 miles, and said, “We have to kick and scream for every inch because the Democrats just will not give us what we need.”
New and replacement wall is currently being constructed near San Diego, as well as San Luis, Arizona, and El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Ground excavation is underway in Otay Mesa in the San Diego Sector, CBP said on June 11. The 14 miles of new wall will act as a secondary barrier. It will be 30 feet high and “will be outfitted with smart detection technology that keeps Border Patrol agents safe while deterring illicit cross-border activity,” CBP wrote on Twitter.
Ground excavation continues in the San Diego Sector to make way for 14 miles of new secondary border barrier. The barrier is 30ft tall, and will be outfitted with smart detection technology that keeps Border Patrol agents safe while deterring illicit cross-border activity. pic.twitter.com/GObyaWRmIg
— CBP (@CBP) June 11, 2019
In San Luis, Arizona, around 22 miles of primary fencing is being constructed, with about 1 mile completed by May 30, according to CBP.
A total of 44 miles of steel bollard pedestrian barrier is to replace ineffective fencing in the Yuma, El Centro, and San Diego sectors.
And in the Rio Grande Valley—where the river, and its propensity to flood, causes additional challenges for fencing options—the focus is on levee walls that will double as border barrier, as well as gates to close gaps in existing fencing.
Construction started on April 4 for a new, 13-mile stretch of levee wall in Hidalgo County, about a mile north of the Rio Grande.
Twenty miles of fencing has been completed in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, just west of El Paso, Texas. El Paso itself is getting 7.25 miles of new fence.
A 2.25-mile replacement border wall was constructed near Calexico, California, last year—the first new construction under Trump.
The majority of the new wall is augmenting existing barrier or replacing existing, unsuitable wall, such as that made from recycled scraps of metal and old landing mat built in the 1990s.
Around 654 miles of border fence existed along the almost-2,000-mile border with Mexico before Trump assumed office—about 354 miles of pedestrian barrier and 300 miles of vehicle barrier.
Much of the existing pedestrian fencing is located in the San Diego, Yuma, El Centro, Tucson, El Paso, and Rio Grande Valley Sectors, while most vehicle barrier is located in the Tucson, El Paso, and Yuma Sectors.
All new border-wall construction comes with all-weather roads, lighting, enforcement cameras, and other related technology.
In his fight for border-wall funding, Trump refused to sign a spending bill last December because it failed to include his requested funding. A record-setting 35-day government shutdown ensued. Trump then declared a national emergency on Feb. 15 to allow for the redirection of Department of Defense monies.
The wall construction is happening as record numbers of illegal immigrants flood into the country. Border Patrol is currently apprehending an average of 4,200 illegal aliens every day. The vast majority are children and family units from Central America that Border Patrol is forced to release quickly, despite that 90 percent of them never show up for their subsequent immigration hearings.
Congress is voting next week on a $4.5 billion emergency appropriations package that Homeland Security requested on May 1 to help deal with the humanitarian needs it’s encountering with the huge numbers coming in.